SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Professional baseball returned Friday night as the Canaries hosted the defending American Association champion St. Paul Saints. While Sioux Falls may have been the home team on the scoreboard in the season opener, both clubs will call the Birdcage home this season.
It may have taken a few months longer than the players had hoped, but professional baseball is finally back.
“We’re just blessed to be here honestly. There’s a lot of guys that aren’t playing. Big league guys aren’t playing, they’re having trouble playing. Minor league season shutdown, everyone in Mexico, lot of people are shutdown,” First Baseman John Silviano said.
As part of the American Association’s return, team’s unable to play at their home this year had to share a field with those that could. For the Saints, that meant playing at the Birdcage in Sioux Falls, where the advantage tilts toward the offense.
“Pop-up’s here are home runs so you better keep the ball down. The game’s never over here. I think there was a game here last year where we were up 9 runs by the 5th or 6th inning, and they came back and tied it and had the winning run on so,” Manager George Tsamis said.
St. Paul is scheduled to play 42 of their 60 games in Sioux Falls currently. While they expect some Saints fans will make the trek down from the Twin Cities, the team’s hoping to win some fans over at their new home.
“By winning I guess. Just coming out here and competing and winning. Hopefully we can win over some of these fans, if not it’s ok. We’re here to play ball,” Silviano said.
Defending their title and winning another championship remains the goal, that can’t happen if safety isn’t the top priority.
“Rules are rules. You got to wear a mask in certain places and do certain things different. It’s what we got to do to stay on the field. You know, it’s all about staying on the field. Try to minimize contact, and really just keep everyone healthy so we can continue to play. We don’t want anything to flare up and jeopardize us playing,” Silvianno said.
In their season opening game, the Canaries knocked off St. Paul, 9-4. Game two of their series is underway at the Birdcage.